Thus spoke the youthful Radovan Karadžic, the poet and psychiatrist who, as the leader of the Bosnian Serbs in the early 1990s, became the chief architect of their "ethnic cleansing" policy. His extreme version of Serbian nationalism justified the mass expulsion of civilian populations and the murder of over 100,000 people. Although indicted for genocide and war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in
Karadžic's capture closes a chapter in the Balkan tragedy of the '90s. It is of major symbolic and political significance for the chances of overcoming the legacies of war in
It was Karadžic who, in October 1991, threatened the Bosnian Muslims with "extermination" if they declared independence from the rump
The military intervention and the
The capture of Karadžic is also a poignant illustration of larger shifts within Serbian politics. The Democratic Party's victory in elections earlier this spring allowed it to seize control of the government by allying with the remnants of Miloševic's Socialist Party (SPS), creating a major realignment in the Serbian political system. The SPS is so eager to reinvent itself and fill the vacant place on the left wing of Serbian politics that it is prepared to be part of a coalition with a party whose political identity is built on the opposition to the Miloševic legacy. It is a historical irony that a government comprised of former Miloševic supporters facilitated the arrest and extradition to
The capture of Ratko Mladic, the other half of the "Srebrenica twins," also requires a major realignment of power--but one that may be too drastic for
The arrest of Karadžic also illustrates the extent of European leverage in
But the "Europeanization" of Serbian politics is far from complete. First,
Though the current Serbian government is the most pro-European that the EU can expect for the near future, it is quite fragile. So while Karadžic's arrest was a testament to EU power, the Europeans must be careful not to overplay their hand in a country that continues to be so volatile.
Jacques Rupnik is a professor of politics at Sciences Po, Paris.
By Jacques Rupnik